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Feature Article


What is Domestic Violence?

Kim Allen, former Associate State Specialist, former Director - Center for Adolescent Sexuality, Pregnancy and Parenting, University of Missouri Extension

Domestic Violence is when one person uses power and control to dominate their partner. Research shows that most victims of domestic violence are women. People typically associate physical abuse with domestic violence, but there are actually four types of abuse: physical, psychological, rape and sexual, and economic abuse.

Why doesn’t the victim just leave?

It is common for people who have never been a victim of domestic abuse to wonder why these women don’t just leave. The truth is, women in a domestic violence situation have a tremendous amount of barriers to leaving. Safety is a common reason why women stay — there is often a very real fear of harm or death to herself or her children if she leaves. A history of psychological abuse can also contribute to a woman’s ability to have the esteem and resources to make that decision. Without a safe place to go, transportation to get there, and money to survive once she arrives, her options are limited. Finally, women have spent time and energy in their relationship, which was likely based on love and commitment. Overcoming social values related to divorce, violence and safety as well as a lack of support and resources make this a very difficult decision for many women.

How common is domestic violence?

The Missouri Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence (MCADSV) keeps statistics on the number of domestic events in Missouri. According to MCADSV and the Missouri State Highway Patrol, 38,902 reports of domestic violence were recorded in 2005. However, research suggests that only half of the incidents of domestic violence ever get reported.

As a result of the high numbers of domestic abuse in Missouri, MCADSV member programs provided services to many women, children and men in Missouri. Services include hotline calls, intervention groups, safe temporary housing, case management, community education and therapy. 2005 MCADSV statistics show that domestic violence providers served:

  • 28,936 women
  • 14,540 children
  • 1,680 men
  • 87,571 hotline/crisis intervention calls
  • 4,527 support groups for battered women
  • 2,007 support groups for children
  • 1,144 batterer intervention groups

What should someone do if they are a victim of domestic violence?

The best thing a person can do if they are a victim of domestic violence is to get help from professionals who have training and information that is crucial to success. These professionals will work with women to develop a safety plan, which is a detailed guideline for leaving an abusive situation and a plan for what to do to keep safe while in the abusive situation.

For more information about domestic violence:


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Last Updated 10/03/2014